With so many US states already approving legal online sports betting, it is only a matter of time before other places within the U.S. start mirroring their decisions. And though some regions remain in a holding pattern, residents of Maryland can rest easy. There will be online sports betting in Maryland soon enough.
How soon, you ask? It appears very soon. The Maryland gaming commission just recently awarded five sports betting licenses to casinos within the state, suggesting that the official rollout should happen sometime in the near, potentially very near, future.
Five Maryland Casinos Receive Sports Betting Licenses
While this news is not unexpected, given that the green light for sports betting in Maryland was issued long ago, it remained a mystery as to which providers would be given the chance to accept wagers from the public. Ultimately, the gaming commission settled on the following five casinos: Maryland Live!, MGM National Harbor, Horseshoe Casino, Hollywood Casino and Ocean Downs Casino.
As of now, they will all have the ability to take sports bets once the rollout is complete. And yet, the process isn't quite done. The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission approved this list of five casinos, in a 5-2 vote, under the condition that they pass a number of remaining tests before officially going public.
Maryland Casinos Still Competing to Accept Sports Bets
Every inch of these casinos' systems will be subject to review from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Staff prior to any official openings.
According to Seth Elkin, the Assistant Director of Communications for Public Affairs at Maryland Lottery and Gaming, they will be looking to "approve casino systems of internal controls, standard operating procedures, security and surveillance systems, responsible gaming plans and employee training procedures."
Phrased another way: Maryland will leave no stone unturned when evaluating their primary sports-betting partners. Any shortcomings or failures from the selected casinos could result in a loss of license before they ever get a chance to take in any sports-betting business.
This isn't even the whole process, either. After all the casinos get behind-the-scenes approval, they must go through a soft opening of sorts. All of their sports-betting services will go live, but each transaction will be overseen and monitored by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Staff. The end goal is to have all of the casino's live wagering systems running on the same, capable level as the top reviewed online sportsbooks.
How Long will Maryland's Sports Betting Review Process Take?
Currently, there is no concrete timetable for Maryland to finish up their review of the five casinos licensed to accept sports bets. Everything hinges on how long it takes for all five casinos to meet the lofty operating standards set by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Staff.
It isn't yet clear whether this process will be approached with a ton of urgency. The support of legal sports betting in Maryland is not unanimous, and the sky-high baselines put in place infer the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Staff will not give the thumbs up to any of the selected casinos just to expedite the procedure. If anything, knowing the degree to which sports-betting providers are being put under the microscope, the final step in Maryland's process could wind up taking longer than most.
Of course, not every government official wants this process to cover a long period of time. As Gaming Commissioner Randy Marriner has noted on multiple occasions, Maryland is presently losing a ton of sports-betting revenue to surrounding states such as Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., the latter of which is essentially an extension of Maryland.
On top of that, every local government is still hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Maryland is no exception. So while they should absolutely want to make sure their sports-betting rollout goes off without a hitch, they also cannot afford to be forfeiting such a lucrative amount of revenue that's going to neighboring regions for much longer. Sports betting among Maryland residents is happening anyway. The state itself might as well get a piece of that pie.
When will Legal Sports Betting OFFICIALLY Come to Maryland?
If we had to ballpark a specific date for legal sports betting to take effect in Maryland, we'd guess that sometime around the NFL and college football playoffs will mark the official start.
Both the NFL and NCAAF postseasons are among the most popular betting events in sports. There is perhaps no better time for Maryland to open its doors. Interest will be at a yearly high, and both playoff brackets will be underway early enough in the new year for Maryland to count any revenue toward the first fiscal quarter.
In the event early 2022 proves to be out of reach, Maryland may want to delay the rollout of sports betting even longer. It is best implemented around some sort of tent-pole event—like a league's playoffs or championships, or the start of a season.
If not the NFL and college football playoffs, then, Maryland might want to consider beginning to take legal sports bets at casinos to open the 2022 MLB season.
Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use whenever you can't visit a casino: